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Christine Ryder: Gimmer shearlings off to the mart, and the first of the Belties goes


Gearing up and getting ready for the sheep sale time of year

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Getting ready for sheep selling season #sheep

It is coming up to our sheep sale time of year and as I write, we are busy getting 200 Mule and Texel cross gimmer shearlings ready for sale at Skipton on Tuesday (August 18). We have always sold gimmer lambs in the past, so this is a first for us.

Last autumn some of the bigger lambs were put to the Beltex tup to lamb in April and we are really pleased with how well they have done. In an ideal world the hoggs would all just have one lamb but they scanned at 125 per cent, so the options were take a lamb off the twins or put a creep feeder out. We started splitting the twins but as the pet lamb pen filled, from these and the other lambing sheep, we then decided to leave them on, and the mothers have managed very well.

The shearlings have been twice now through the sheep shower and unfortunately because of the rain it is looking like they are going to have to go through again. Chris has spent a lot of time ‘titivating’ them. It is a lot of work and we just hope the end price makes it all worth while, but early indications are for a fall in prices from last year. I guess that fairly well sums up most sectors of farming right now.

This week our first Beltie bullock has gone to slaughter. We will have 10 bullocks to go this autumn, and the heifers of the same age we are keeping for breeding. As they are slow growing it has taken 27 months to get the first one there. The butcher tells us he has come back weighing 382.7kg deadweight, graded O+4-. This one will be hung for three to four weeks and then will be on the menu at the local Millstones restaurant three miles away. They have been reared on grass but this last month we have been giving them a bit of proven (feed) to get some finish.

The most difficult part about selling the Belties is marketing them as first class beef and raising awareness of the fact they are a natural product and are not pushed in any way.

And to finish, I saw this on Twitter and it made me laugh: best bit of advice for any farmer’s wife ’Ignore anything he says when moving or sorting cattle, it is not personal’.


Christine Ryder, North Yorkshire

Chritine Ryder and husband Chris farm 242 hectares (600 acres) at Blubberhouses, in the Nidderdale Area of Outtanding Beauty. They are tenants on their home farm and also run a B&B. Stock includes Swaledale and Mule flocks, as well as a herd of Belted Galloways. The farm also hosts educational access visits.

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